What is a Service Desk?

A Service Desk is a primary IT capability called for in IT Service Management (ITSM) as defined by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It is intended to provide a Single Point of Contact ("SPOC") to meet the communications needs of both Users and IT and to satisfy both Customer and IT Provider objectives. Many organisations have implemented a central point of contact for handling Customer, User and related issues ("User" refers to the actual user of the service, while "Customer" refers to the entity that is paying for service). The Service Desk function is known under several titles (often interpreted as having increasing levels of business relevance) including:

  • Call centre
  • Contact centre
  • Help desk
  • Service desk

The ITIL approach considers the Service Desk to be the central point of contact between service providers and users/customers on a day-to-day basis. It is also a focal point for reporting Incidents (disruptions or potential disruptions in service availability or quality) and for users making Service Requests (routine requests for services). The Service Desk handles incidents and service requests, as well as providing an interface to users for other ITSM activities such as:

  1. Incident Management
  2. Problem Management
  3. Configuration Management
  4. Change Management
  5. Release Management
  6. Service Level Management
  7. Availability Management
  8. Capacity Management
  9. Financial Management
  10. IT Service Continuity Management.
  11. Security Management

The Service Desk pro-actively keeps users informed of all relevant service events, actions and service changes that are likely to affect them. The Service Desk is in the direct line of any impact on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and as such should be kept rapidly informed of any planned or unexpected changes or service unavailability.

The Service Desk differs from a Call centre, Contact centre or a Help desk by offering a more broad and user-centric approach, which seeks to provide a user with an informed single point of contact for all of their ICT requirements. A Service Desk seeks to facilitate the integration of business processes into the Service Management infrastructure. In addition to actively monitoring and owning Incidents and user questions, and providing the communications channel for other Service Management disciplines with the user community, a Service Desk also provides an interface for other activities such as customer Change requests, third parties (e.g. maintenance contracts), and software licensing.

The objectives of the Service Desk are:

  • Providing a single (informed) point of contact for customers
  • Facilitating the restoration of normal operational service with minimal business impact on the customer within agreed SLA levels and business priorities.

The common Service Desk functions include:

  • Receiving calls, first-line customer liaison
  • Recording and tracking incidents and complaints
  • Keeping customers informed on request status and progress
  • Making an initial assessment of requests, attempting to resolve them or refer them to someone who can
  • Monitoring and escalation procedures relative to the appropriate SLA
  • Identifying problems
  • Closing incidents and confirmation with the customers
  • Coordinating second and third line support

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